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Drug Abuse Problem In India: Things You must Know!

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

There is a worldwide consensus that misuse of narcotics and psychoactive substances is on the rise and India is no exception to this. Drug abuse in India is prevalent. Polydrug use is now a well-established pattern of drug misuse. To complement the effects of preferred drugs, users select a substitute from a range of drugs.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is growing in India and the problem is serious in South Asia. According to a UN report, drugs enter the cross-border illicit markets through various channels, being diverted from India’s pharmacy industry and smuggled from Afghanistan.

Drug Abuse In India

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), an independent UN body tasked with monitoring the production and consumption of narcotics worldwide, said in its annual report that governments in South Asia continue to respond strongly to the threat of drug trafficking and abuse in the region.

According to UNODC, India accounts for 10 percent of the total pharmaceuticals produced in the world. In its report, it noted that the law required all drugs with “abuse potential” to be sold only on prescription, but that there was “significant diversion” from this.

According to a study by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Substance Abuse by Children, 100 percent of the children in conflict with the law were drug abusers, while 95.5 percent of them staying in child care institutions were on drugs and 93 percent of street children consumed narcotics. The study also states that 88 percent of the children consumed drugs due to ”peer pressure”.

Visual journalists Vikram Singh and Enrico Fabian documented the alarming spike in the number of people using prescription drug cocktails which are up to 10 times cheaper, and often easily available at neighbourhood chemists.

Drug Abuse in Punjab

Throughout the border state of Punjab, whether in villages or cities, drugs have become a scourge.  Opium  is prevalent, refined as heroin or other illegal substances. Schoolboys sometimes eat small black balls of opium paste, with tea, before classes. Synthetic drugs are popular among those too poor to afford heroin.

The scale of the problem, if impossible to quantify precisely, is undeniably immense and worrisome. India has one of the world’s youngest populations, a factor that is expected to power future economic growth, yet Punjab is already a reminder of the demographic risks of a glut of young people. An overwhelming majority of addicts are between the ages of 15 and 35, according to one study, with many of them unemployed and frustrated by unmet expectations.

Applying estimates of prevalence to population figures, the survey estimated that in India, whose population is just over a billion, 62.5 million people use alcohol, 8.75 million use cannabis, two million use opiates, and 0.6 million use sedatives or hypnotics. Very important to create awareness

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD


For Punjab government, the problem is hardly unknown. Private drug treatment centers, some run by underqualified officials, have proliferated across the state and treatment wards in government hospitals have seen a surge in patients. Three years ago, a state health official warned in a court affidavit that Punjab risked losing a whole generation to drugs. Roughly 60 percent of all illicit drugs confiscated in India are seized in Punjab.

Always try to find support within family, friends and the deaddiction centre to tackle drug abuse, accepting that you suffer from drug abuse is the first big step. Keep drug triggers and cravings in check to avoid relapse.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

The need for awareness

While most people think that addicts have a choice, in reality, an addict needs professional help because it is a chronic disorder. Drug addiction not only affects the substance abuser but also impacts families. They go through mental stress, face social consequences, and are pushed into financial crisis. June 26 is observed as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking to promote a society free of drug abuse. Individuals, communities and various organisations in the world join hands to raise awareness. To make a positive difference you can contribute to this fight against drug addiction, be a volunteer or donate to nonprofits working to curb drug addiction and help addicts rebuild their lives.

What is the Indian Government is doing?

The Indian government has taken a significant step to help alcohol and drug abusers by launching a national toll-free helpline number – 1800-11-0031 and control drug abuse in India. The helpline was started to set in motion Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to eradicate the menace of drug abuse in India and assist the existing victims in successful rehabilitation.

Disclaimer:  The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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